On one day in early July 2018, the Trinidad family had finished lunch and were on their way home from vacation. Sadly, though, tragedy was to strike on that very journey. And as a mother’s nightmare became reality, her emotional words in the wake of loss would reveal the full extent of her heartbreak.
The patriarch of the Trinidad family was Audie, who emigrated from the Philippines to the United States in the late 1980s. And he served his new country for the rest of his life – firstly by enlisting in the Navy and then by becoming an employee of the U.S. Postal Service.
Audie’s career path was representative of the pride he had for his new country, his brother, Danny, would tell NorthJersey.com in July 2018. And Audie had also hoped to achieve the American dream of building a comfortable, successful life “for himself and a family,” Danny went on.
Audie would achieve that last goal, too. He married fellow Filipino Mary Rose, whom he had first encountered in New York. The pair then had four daughters – Kaitlyn, Danna and twins Melissa and Allison – and settled down in Teaneck, New Jersey.
The Trinidads even traveled a little; for instance, they spent their 2018 Fourth of July vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. On the last day of the family’s trip, Audie sent snapshots of their seafood lunch to his brother. After that, he, his wife and their girls piled into their 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan for the journey home.
The six relatives then settled in for the more than 200-mile drive back to New Jersey along Route 1. Mary Rose subsequently told her aunt that she had been sat in the passenger seat, where she had nodded off. Unfortunately, though, with her eyes closed, the mom of four didn’t see the tragedy heading straight for her family.
Before the Trinidads had made it back to Teaneck, their minivan collided with a Ford F-350 pick-up truck that was heading the wrong way on the highway. Public information officer Melissa Jaffe later described the accident through the Delaware State Police’s website.
Jaffe explained, “For unknown reasons, the F-350 failed to remain in the southbound lanes of travel and exited the roadway, crossing over the grassy median and into the northbound lanes of travel.” First, the truck hit a Mercury Sable – then it made contact with the Trinidads’ van.
Jaffe went on to reveal, “The impact [of the crash] caused both [the F-350 and the Sienna] to be displaced off the edge of the roadway and into a ditch.” The truck’s driver, 44-year-old Alvin S. Hubbard Jr., and an unnamed 30-year-old passenger ultimately survived the crash with only minor injuries.
But the Trinidad family would not be as lucky. According to Mary Rose’s aunt, Lydia Agas, as told to the New York Post, Mary Rose awoke with a shock. Then, she reportedly saw her husband unmoving and slumped to the side with his head on Mary Rose’s chest.
And although Audie had been wearing his seatbelt, Mary Rose’s four daughters had endured the crash without being suitably restrained, according to Jaffe. Authorities subsequently pronounced all of the girls dead at the scene of the accident; heartbreakingly, Audie had passed away, too.
Meanwhile, Mary Rose had survived the crash – albeit with some broken bones. First responders then took the mom to a Delaware hospital for treatment, where she remained for some time under sedation.
Still, in her first conversation after the accident, Mary Rose was apparently painfully aware of what had happened to her and her family. Agas told the New York Post that when she had spoken to Mary Rose, the accident victim had devastatingly said, “Auntie, I’m alone.”
Audie’s brother, Danny, also confirmed to the newspaper that Mary Rose knew the extent of what had happened to her and her loved ones. However, at that particular time, Danny revealed, “[Mary Rose] is under heavy sedation, so [the deaths of her daughters and husband] are not sinking in yet.”
Through tears, Danny went on to say, “I don’t know how she or us will get through this. Why take them all?” He also told the New York Post, “I’m trying to keep it together. We don’t know how we will cope once reality sets in.”
Then, not long after the crash, Danny reported to People that the news was finally becoming real for Mary Rose. He had spoken to his sister-in-law on July 9 before she headed in for an operation on her right shoulder.
“[Mary Rose] wasn’t on medicine then, so she wasn’t groggy and was able to cry. She said it was finally sinking in that they’re gone forever. She said, ‘Now I’m by myself,” Danny explained. But he added that he told Mary Rose to reject the notion that she had to face her tragedy without support.
“I said, ‘You’re not alone. We’re here.’ It’s going to be painful for her, emotionally and physically. We will give her a lot of love,” concluded Danny. And as it turned out, Mary Rose would receive plenty of support from those who had read her tragic story, too.
That’s because a GoFundMe page was set up in the Trinidads’ honor to help Mary Rose get back on her feet after the accident. And while the fundraiser’s organizers didn’t originally have a set goal in mind, donors have already given nearly $300,000 on her behalf.
Then, on August 11, 2018, at the funeral service for her family members, Mary Rose received yet another reminder of how much support she had. Around 700 people attended the memorial. And while he acknowledged he could “never really know what [she was] going through,” councilman Arvin Amatorio promised at the ceremony that Mary Rose’s community and her extended family would be there for her “long after [she] buried [her] loved ones.”